Monday, February 28, 2011

On I'm Feeling Lucky: Click on Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie Flickr collections

Say you're looking for a photo about a Baha'i activity. How can you negotiate your way around on our Baha'i Views /Flitzy Phoebie site on Flickr and not get totally lost? Click on Collections. That's the secret. Collections will take you to sets, which will take you to a particular photo -- without having to sift through hundreds of photostream pages.
If you just want something artful or whimsical -- the equivalent of the "I'm Feeling Lucky" on the Google search page -- go to Artful sets.
And did you know that you can get an RSS feed to the photos that show up on Baha'i Views /Flitzy Phoebie? Go here:
 Subscribe to Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie's photostream – Latest |
OK, maybe this was more than you wanted to know about this stuff. I'll stop. -gw

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On No Saint Nick at Ayyam-i-Ha: But Baha'is galore UP ON THE ROOFTOP in Bangalore

Up on the rooftop/ Click, click, click / Down thru the chimney with / Good Saint Nick /
OK, so there is no Saint Nick associated with any local Baha'i traditions around Ayyam-i-Ha that I am aware of. But there were Baha'is galore up on the rooftop in Bangalore, according to Praveen's photo album just put up on Picasa. -gw

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On the Brain is Shaped By Experience: And the most powerful experiences are relationships

I had lunch with Tony last week. Tony is a child psychiatrist who shares a passion with me for early childhood mental health. This is a succinct summary of the relationship between the brain and ... relationships. -gw

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On What Does the Orange Revolution Say About the Jasmine Revolution? Democracy alone doesn't change hearts

A few months back Debbie and her husband Tom visited Egypt as part of an Eastern Mediterranean cruise. Here are her thoughts yesterday at an Ayyam-i-Ha party on seeing Alexandria and Cairo.
These are incredible times for Middle Eastern countries, very much in keeping with the expectations that come from a reading of Shoghi Effendi and the other Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith. For many this is a time of great optimism on the one hand and fear on the other.
On the ride in to work today I listened to National Public Radio in which there was mention of the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine 5 years afterwards. A malaise is back. What does that say? Politics alone -- democracy even -- doesn't of itself change hearts. What does change hearts is spiritual transformation that can only come from religion And not just any religion is up to the task in today's world. Baha'is would argue, it is the Faith of Baha'u'llah that addresses current conditions. -gw

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On Ayyam-i-Ha Parties Around the Globe: Thanks gadget

Bonita and I went to three Ayyam-i-Ha parties over the weekend. I noticed the photos from the neighborhood celebration we went to in NE Tacoma yesterday up on the sidebar on Jeunesse Baha'i today thanks to a Flickr gadget. -gw

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

On a Photo from Tim and Deb's Ayyam-i-Ha Party and Funny Gift Exchange: Be afraid, very afraid

An actual photo from Tim & deb's annual Ayyam-i-Ha party and funny gift exchange. Watch this space for the complete photo set. -gw

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

On To My Internet Friends: Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha to all of my Internet friends and acquaintances. Let's build community wherever we are in the world. -gw

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On Canoeing Chickens at Glen Cove: We're not snow geese, Tom


New way to use your canoe (that dog sure got a workout).

Bonita and I did our first canoe paddle of the year a couple of weeks ago at Glen Cove on the Key Peninsula. We canoed on ... water ... not snow. We're chickens, not snow geese, Tom. -gw

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Friday, February 25, 2011

On Eric Harper, the Album: If we don't find a way to get along, we'll go missing in the dark

If I go missing in the dark
Illuminate your heart so I can find you
'Cause in this forest we call life
The howling winds of hate and fear are growing stronger
And I can't sing this song forever
'Cause we're running out of time
If we don't find a way to get along
We'll go missing in the dark
The last several days while riding back and forth to work I have been listening to the self-titled 2010 album by Eric Harper . I can't believe how rich the texture of the songs on it are. I've checked out live versions of some of the songs on YouTube. Missing in the Dark is performed with great exuberance and percussion accompaniment at a Nanaimo coffee house up on Vancouver Island where Eric has been recently living.
Eric is, of course, the Baha'i musician who learned as a teenager flamenco guitar technique while living in Portugal where his parents were Baha'i pioneers. Yet his first love, as he told the guests for a house party on Vashon Island I attended last year, was metal music. He combined metal and flamenco performing on Mimosa's Two EP. I played "Layli and Majnun" off the album at the end of the last Area Teaching Comittee meeting, which was held in our home, and had Lisa and Sandy's heads bobbing. Baha'i-inspired hard rock/metal music --  now that's rather uncommon, isn't it? The album version of "Missing in the Dark" is a great example of this rather rare genre.
But that's not the only great song. "Starry Night" with Gergana Velinova starts out soft and lyrical, gets loud and rockin', then back to soft. There is an anthem-like quality to "MIssing in the Dark" but also portions of many of the other songs -- like "Say." To my ears, the album version of "Rain" is a great Killers of a song.
Eric's music has a soft side with "Even Though..." There are two versions of a song good and ready for a Baha'i marriage ceremony entitled "You Complete Me." An instrumental, "Under the Lunar Sky," with its distinctive Spanish-guitar finger technique rounds out the mix. -gw

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On Photos from Kay & Jim's Baha'i Wedding: Birds of love

The photos we took from Kay and Jim's Baha'i wedding are up and flickr. Boy, does having a wedding in a Victorian Bed and Breakfast make for an incredible backdrop for photos of a joyous event. -gw

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On Baha'i Study Circle at Farhad and Bricelda: Still ooohing and aaahing

Bonita still oooh and ahhh over our Baha'i Study Circle experience at Farhad and Bricelda's. -gd
Bricleda's home country

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the Message of the local BNASAA Friends: Gay or straight, Baha'u'llah's love is unconditional

The local group of the Baha'i Network on Aids, Sexuality, Addiction and Abuse presented before a recent Baha'i Cluster Reflection Meeting to describe the work they do. Like every body of believers within the Baha'i community in this day, their focus is on teaching the Baha'i Cause. They look to provide support to the population so affected by the pervasive issues addressed by BNASAA and to educate all of us, Baha'i or not, to the Message of Baha'ullah, as needed.
What is that message? "Regardless of who you are, what you do, Baha'u'llah loves you, and we love you, and we accept you, period, without reservation." Whatever the shortcoming, whatever the personal struggle, the love is unconditional. The discussion they led was spontaenous, brief, frank, and open. It went as follows. -gw
Friend 1: "There's a lot of people out there who are really hurting. Emotionally and physically they're damaged. And the healing message of Baha'u'lah can help resolve that damage."
Friend 2: "In the December 28 letter from the House they mention the kind of social transformation that Baha'u'llah brings not being possible when the community of individuals caring for that transformation operates at a comfortable distance from the rest of the the world. So it's wonderful to see that the Faith is taking steps little by little to provide for that. Because as anybody [knows] who goes out and teaches even in their own neighborhood -- the people that you live around, whether in your neighborhood or the next city over --  these issues are just everywhere."
Friend 3: "How do you expect to be able to address the issue of [homosexuality], which is not considered something that you recover from in our culture"
Friend 1: "It is something that in our culture people do not consider to is recoverable from. However, there are a variety of reasons why people engage in homosexual behavior. The House has written a number of letters on the subject, and has indicated that there are people who can, with the proper kind of counseling and everything, overcome this affliction, as Shoghi Effendi called it. At the same time the House has also said that if they cannot, then a life of celibacy is what they need to do, to look at. Our job is not to try to change people. That's not what we're dealing with. We're not trying to change people at all. We're trying to share the love of Baha'u'llah. If people want to change, that's their responsibility. There are Baha'is who have been sexually abused, or physically abused, or Baha'is who have substance abuse problems, all kinds of things"
Friend 3: "You're going to focus specifically on people who are sick?"
Friend 1: "Basically, [but] we don't necessarily consider it sick..."
Friend 3: "Sick in terms of AIDS or..."
Friend 4: "It's also for people who are well, too, and who have overcome those struggles to share their experience."
Friend 1: "Baha'is ... actively support gay rights. Baha'is [don't] actively support gay marriage, because Baha'u'llah teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. That doesn't mean that Baha'is can't go out and support gays in housing and jobs and [oppose] other kinds of discrimination that are experienced. Our primary job, our primary focus is not on what is the law, because the law is a means, the law is a tool that Baha'u'llah has given us for our spiritual development. What we are focused on is that, regardless of who you are, what you do, Baha'u'llah loves you, and we love you, and we accept you, period, without reservation."
Friend 5: "So you'll be starting to educate the community through emails, through the bulletin; the announcements will be carried in the emails and the bulletins?"
Friend 6: "But it would be helpful if we're asked for information, if there's a group that wants education on the issue, ... we're here to help in any way we can. And one thing we've learned through all our study and education on these topics is that, ninety percent of the teachings are about what we can do. They are about our spiritual reality. We focus on what we do know, what we are told, what is in the Writings. There is a lot of gray area that isn't the Writings, that we don't need to worry so much about it. But we do go for what we do find in the Writings, and we deepen on that, and we want to be able to share that."
Friend 7: "Like, almost instead of looking at everyone's differences, or what separates you from someone else, well ... what do we have in common? We've all had pain or hurt. We all want unity, love and acceptance. Baha'ullah isn't asking us to judge or make sure that they're living the right way, but he's asking us to love everyone, that where each individual person's journey is at that, it's not for us to do other than to love and to accept and to be a resource for wherever they're trying to be."

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the Need for Collective Security: An idea whose time has come

As we witness the outbreaks of government-endorsed violence in countries such as Libya, and hear the outcry of peoples around the world railing at such injustice, is it not time for the international institutions to which we have entrusted the very responsibility for maintaining peace to step in and act? Do not the circumstances that we are witnessing amount at the very least to a 'threat to the peace' or a 'breach of the peace?' If not under these circumstances, then when should we act? Words alone, will not suffice. Action is required.
And if we find that what is standing in the way of timely, decisive and effective Security Council action to restore the peace is the absence of a standing international force that is truly representative of the community of nations and that acts in accordance with clearly delineated rules agreed to in advance by all nations, then is it not time to set about finally creating such a force? Surely in a world that is advanced in so many ways, we can succeed if we bend our minds to crafting an international system of collective security that is effective.
The time has come to put away our excuses for inaction and get on with the job of re-vamping our global institutions to ensure that they adequately meet the needs of our time.
We live in a world where there are no police to call. We need the police. We need collective security, as Savaida Ma'ani Ewing argues. -gw

Why this blog?

The world cries out for new ideas to solve big problems like nuclear proliferation, climate change and ineffective international institutions . I hope to stimulate discussion by offering alternative analysis and possible solutions based on a principled approach.  We need to stop reacting to crises based on short-term, narrow interests and start acting equitably and effectively, with an eye on long-term consequences and the needs of humanity as a whole. 

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On 19th Century Victorian Decor: For celebrating timeless religion

There isn't exactly a Victorian house on every corner in Tacoma. But Tim and Deb's remodeled Odd-Fellows Hall-home is in that style. And the place that Kay and Jim chose to have their wedding was a Victoria B&B. Victorian decor makes for great backgrounds when taking photos, that's for sure. Here's shots from Tim & Deb's last divine devotional. -gw

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On We're Doing Our Walks Memorizing Prayers: The reliance on the Word of God

Our Ruhi Book 1 Baha'i study circle is moving towards its conclusion. I have five prayers to memorize and I haven't completed the task. I gotta get crackin'. Tom and Renee, on the other hand, are learning prayers left and right. I wonder if they could memorize some for me and have in count. -gw
It is heartening to see that, already in some 300 of the 1,600 clusters worldwide with intensive programmes of growth in operation, the believers have entered the new arena of learning now open to them, and, in more than a few, they are extending its frontiers. Clearly, in all such clusters, strengthening the educational processes set in motion by the training institute, each with its own requisites—regularly held classes for the youngest members of society, close-knit groups for junior youth, and circles of study for youth and adults—is of paramount importance. Much of what this work entails was discussed in the Riḍván message. Without exception, having witnessed the transformative effects of the institute process first hand, the friends in such clusters are striving to gain a fuller appreciation of the dynamics that underlie it—the spirit of fellowship it creates, the participatory approach it adopts, the depth of understanding it fosters, the acts of service it recommends, and, above all, its reliance on the Word of God. Every effort is being exerted to ensure that the process reflects the complementarity of “being” and “doing” the institute courses make explicit; the centrality they accord to knowledge and its application; the emphasis they place on avoiding false dichotomies; the stress they lay on memorization of the Creative Word; and the care they exercise in raising consciousness, without awakening the insistent self.
The December 28th, 2010, Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, paragraph 16.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the Growth of the Baha'i Faith in the Dominican Republic: Every day the Baha'is over there are going out teaching

Over the winter holidays Bricelda spent 6 weeks in the Dominican Republic whee she is from. At the Ruhi Book 1 class held in her home last week, she had this description of Baha'i expansion there. -gw
Bricelda: "You live in a building and all your neighbors know you are Baha'i. It's a process, because [the Dominican Rebublic] is a Catholic country. Every day the Baha'is over there are going out teaching. I think the Baha'i Faith has a good future. [For] some teaching people, like the youth people, the Faith is bringing another way. They go to those classes and they're learning. They go to areas no one else will go to work with those muchachas [and] muchachos]."

Farhad: "Most of the people who come to the schools are youth, probably teenagers, probably at least more than half."

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Friday, February 18, 2011

On Arriving in Dallas to Take a Shot at the American Dream: And for the first time experiencing religious freedom.

My name is Sina Sabet Sarvestani and I spend most of my week working with other Dallas youth, trying to make a difference in the lives of younger youth in our neighborhoods. Raha Sabet, my first cousin, is imprisoned for doing the exact same thing in Iran.
I serve as a coordinator for the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program in Dallas, Texas, a Bahá’í-inspired program that empowers junior youth (ages12-15) to take charge of their own spiritual and intellectual growth and to contribute to the betterment of their communities. Currently, we have 16 junior youth groups in different neighborhoods of Dallas; consisting of more than 135 diverse participants. The program has provided an environment of mutual support for the group members and an opportunity for the Dallas youth to take part in social action. Our work has gained the support of Dallas Police and the Dallas Independent School District.
When we fled Iran in 2005, my family and I traveled by train to Turkey and went to the United Nations office in Ankara. After a series of interviews, the U.N. decided to send us to the United States, which was already accepting Iranian Bahá’í religious refugees. I was not fluent in English when we arrived in New York City on September 8, 2006. The next day, we flew to Dallas to take a shot at the American dream and, for the first time, experienced religious freedom.
Read the full story of Junior Youth animator and Baha'i refugee Sina on Project Conversion. -gw

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On Making My Top Five Baha'i-Inspired Songs List: TaliaSafa everyday

I've often thought that I should put a "My Top Five Favorite Songs of the Day" post up every day on my blog(s). Every day that list would ebb and flow, of course, as I hear new music and rediscover old songs. Were I to start this practice, I just know that songs from TaliaSafa's self-titled album would make my list again and again. I love their voices, the quality of the production of their songs (thanks be to producer Jon Rezin, I'm sure), and just the pure listenability of their music. Checking into Baha'i-themed postings, I came across these playful photo sets of the two souls who make up this dyanmic duo on their Flickr account. -gw.

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On Jim Becomes a Baha'i: In his own words

Big news. Jim and Kay are getting married tomorrow. Bigger news. Jim declared his believe in Baha'u'llah while visiting Uganda. Here he is at Tim & Deb's devotional last Sunday telling his story. -gw

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

On Eat of the Good Things of Which God Had Allowed You: Deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties

There was more to the recent day trip we made to Kitsap County than just our visiting Foulweather Bluff Reserve, as wonderful as that was. -gw
Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: May 3rd, 2011

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is May 3, 2011!

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a key strategy of the Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign (the Campaign), which is part of the Public Awareness and Support Strategic Initiative by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The Campaign seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children's mental health and that positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. This year, the national theme will focus on building resilience in young children dealing with trauma.

Communities around the country will participate by holding their own Awareness Day events, focusing either on the national theme, or adapting the theme to the populations they serve. On Awareness Day 2010, more than 1,000 sites held Awareness Day events and nearly 11,000 children and youth participated.

As always, the release of the SAMHSA Short Report (PDF - 1.9MB) will coincide with Awareness Day. The 2011 Short Report will feature how systems of care can positively affect children who have experienced trauma.

Calls To Action for Awareness Day 2011 National Event

  • Integrate mental health and model resilience skills in every environment that has an impact on child development from birth.
  • Enhance resilience and nurture social and emotional skills in young children from birth.
  • Provide information to the public and teach them to recognize the signs of traumatic stress.
  • Raise awareness that treatment for trauma is critical to achieving the milestones of a child's social and emotional development from birth.
  • Promote trauma-informed services and supports in all child-serving settings.

The national event in Washington, DC, will open with an art exhibit sponsored by the American Art Therapy Association at the prestigious Shakespeare Theatre-Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC, ( Exit Disclaimer) and continue with a tribute to youth who dealt with trauma in their childhood and who built on their resilience. A joint award from the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts will be presented to a celebrity who experienced trauma, who demonstrated resilience, and who used his or her celebrity as a platform to educate about trauma and resilience.

Click here to learn about the Benefits of Collaborating on Awareness Day Year-Round.

Thanks to Chris for passing this

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On Jon: A Baha'i and just cool in general

Every once in a while, someone comes along with an idea or a passion that establishes your faith in the human spirit. Jon Rezin, founder of Next Movement Records, is such a man…and he’s bent on making the world a better place through music. A Baha’i and just cool in general, he agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule and talk about how exactly he plans to turn the world upside down for the better.
Great interview with Jon on the blog Project Conversion, an interesting initiative in its own right. Check out the whole interview and then peruse what Andrew Bowen has going with his year-long spiritual investigation on the rest of his blog. -gw


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Monday, February 14, 2011

On Del Comes to Devotions: Spiritual conversations lead to friendship

Spiritual conversations lead to friendship

In the Baha'i Faith, spiritual search and religious identity are matters between the individual and God. But, oftentimes, when someone wants to learn about the Baha'i Faith, they turn to those who are already Baha'is to assist them. This can often lead to deep bonds of friendship.

Malii noticed her Baha'i co-worker didn't get involved in office gossip. But, her interest in the Baha'i Faith grew gradually, as she explored it on her own terms.

Our devotional meeting last Thursday, which included not only a round of prayers, but study of a prayer, led to deep spiritual conversation. Negar brought Del, a colleague from work, to his third Baha'i devotional, but the first this side of the Narrows Bridge. Del lives in the neighborhood, so we are looking forward to seeing him again. At devotions again, certainly, but perhaps he'd be interested in the next Book 1 study circle. Isn't Joe starting one soon?
We ended the evening looking at a video I've featured before on Baha'i Views, footage of the L.A. Workshop from back in the day. Negar used to perfrom in the workshop, and asked to see it.  

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On Seeing the World Upside Down: From blah to aah

Seeing the world upside down is something that kids get to do more than adults.
The young adults of Egypt have certainly turned the world upside down. Thank God!
Whatever suffering and turmoil the years immediately ahead may hold, however dark the immediate circumstances, the Bahá’í community believes that humanity can confront this supreme trial with confidence in its ultimate outcome. Far from signalizing the end of civilization, the convulsive changes towards which humanity is being ever more rapidly impelled will serve to release the “potentialities inherent in the station of man” and reveal “the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality”.
I turned a couple of nondescript "blah" photos from my Foulweather Bluff set upside down, doctored them, and got these. Kinda pretty.
This is how they looked before doctoring with Picasa. -gw

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On Advancing the Frontiers of Learning: The Baha'i institute process

What did you underline when you studied the Dec 28th letter from the Universal House of Justice? -gw